Stephen Smith

Born: ±1795, somewhere near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
(However, other sources say, 1797, Cecil County, Maryland)
Lived: ±1816-1830s, Columbia, Pennsylvania
Died: November 4, 1873, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The colorful, rags-to-riches saga of Stephen Smith traces his rise from slavery and poverty to wealth. Smith learned the lumber business while still a slave and, when free, owned a thriving lumber enterprise. Smith found a way to manage his various business ventures and at the same time become immersed in antislavery and religious activities. Called the richest antebellum black, he shared his wealth generously with a number of institutions.

Born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in Dauphin County around 1795, Stephen Smith was the son of a slave woman, Nancy Smith; his father was unknown. Young Stephen was indentured to General Thomas Boude on July 10, 1801, when he was four or five years old. Boude was a former Revolutionary War officer from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania who allowed Smith to manage his entire lumber business as Smith approached manhood. Smith borrowed $50 on January 3, 1816, to purchase his freedom, and in that same year, he purchased release from his indenture. On November 17, 1816, Smith married Harriet Lee, who worked as a servant in the Jonathan Mifflin home. Already equipped with entrepreneurial skills, Smith opened a lumber business and became involved in lucrative real estate operations while his wife operated an oyster and refreshment house.

Stephen Smith became involved in civil rights activities early on. He opposed the policies of the American Colonization Society and demonstrated his opposition in 1831 when he led free blacks in Columbia in a public meeting. In 1834, Smith joined such men as David Ruggles, John Peck, Abraham Shadd, and John B. Vashon who were the first black agents for Freedom’s Journal and later for The Emancipator. They were asked to secure subscriptions to the papers and collect what was called arrearages.

The astute businessman opened a lumber business in Columbia, Pennsylvania, and soon prospered. The risky work on the Underground Railroad did not intimidate such abolitionists as Smith and William Whipper. These two abolitionists and businessmen of Columbus, Pennsylvania escaped bodily harm and jail sentences for secreting slaves. Smith’s success in real estate ventures and work as an abolitionist disturbed whites who led a mob in an attack on his office in August 1834, spurring a race riot, followed by a second one in October. They wanted to frighten Smith and force him and other black real-estate owners to sell their property below market value and leave town. They also accused Smith of inflating the value of his property. William F. Worner’s account of the Columbia riots noted the letter that Smith received in 1835: “You must know that your presence is not agreeable, and the less you appear in the assembly of the whites the better it will be for your black hide, as there are great many in this place that would think your absence from it a benefit, as you are considered an injury to the real value of property in Columbia. You have [sic] better take the hint.” In the 1830s, Smith and several antebellum blacks were members of various boards; for Smith, it was the Columbia Bank. He may have been the bank’s largest stockholder, yet he could not become president due to bank rules preventing blacks from holding that post. His status, however, allowed him to name the white man who would be president.

Reginald Wright Kauffman

Born: September 8, 1877, Columbia, Pennsylvania
Died: April 25, 1959, Roanoke, Virginia

The writer of numerous works of fiction and Hollywood film productions, Reginald Wright Kaufman was born to Andrew John Kaufman (a prominent Columbia attorney and president of the Central National Bank) and Anne Fausset Bruner.

Reginald embraced socialism and secular humanism about the time he entered Harvard. Although raised Episcopalian, he intellectually explored Mormonism, yet later actually joined the Russian Orthodox church, where he took the name ‘Basil.’ Some references suggest this was more a maneuver than an act of faith.

Reginald Wright Kaufman was a nephew (through marriage) of Samuel Wright, Esq. Samuel and his wife Ellen (Anne’s sister) lived in Anne’s household on South Second Street in Columbia and continued living there, after Anne’s passing until they died.

Upon graduating from Harvard in 1900, Reginald moved to Philadelphia with his first wife, Ellen, and one child. In 1911, in his introduction to The Girl That Goes Wrong, Reginald refers to having lived in a great many places both in the US and Europe. He and his wife barely supported themselves by writing sporadically for periodicals and newspapers.

Around 1910, Reginald and his new wife, Ruth, lived with Anne, Samuel, and Ellen at the same South Second Street house in Columbia (house next to the old Columbia Hospital).

Always willing to move where the work was, Reginald held the post of Editor of the Bangor Maine Daily News. And, only recently, it was discovered that he was an accredited correspondent with the United States Navy and a member of La Société Académique d’Histoire.

Reginald Wright Kaufman went on to write numerous books, some of which were made into movie screenplays. And, although difficult to pin down, it’s said that some of his books, although fiction, refer to locations in and around Columbia.

View his Hollywood movie credits on the Internet Movie Database.

View a select list of his books on Amazon.

Reginald Wright Kauffman is buried in Columbia’s Mount Bethel Cemetery, along with his wife, Ruth Wright Kauffman.

James Tilden Sheckard

Born: November 23, 1878, Upper Chanceford, Pennsylvania
The family moved to Columbia, Pennsylvania, in 1888
Died: January 15, 1947, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Buried: Laurel Hill Memorial Garden, Columbia, Pennsylvania

“. . .he was a bigger cog in the old invincible Cub machine than he ever received credit for being.” – Johnny Evers

Samuel James ‘Jimmy’ Tilden Sheckard was a star early in the 20th century who might have made it into the Hall of Fame had he been more consistent.

Standing 5′ 9″, he broke in with Brooklyn in 1897. He played well in 1897 and 1898, showing some power, and in 1899 he spent a year with Baltimore before returning to Brooklyn in 1900, 1901, and most of 1902 before joining the new American League Baltimore team for 4 games at the end of 1902. Then, he was back to Brooklyn for another 3 years.

His 1901 season was notable, as he hit .354 with substantial power and drove in 104 runs. He led the league in slugging percentage. He also hit grand slams in consecutive days, an amazing feat, especially in the Deadball Era. It would be 77 years until another National Leaguer, Phil Garner, matched the accomplishment. In 1903, he hit .332, again with good power.

Sheckard joined the Chicago Cubs from 1906-12, which was their greatest era. They won the World Series in 1908 and won the pennants in 1906 (when they went 116-36), 1907, and 1910. Sheckard, however, was not able to play as well for them as he had earlier in the decade. While he was still an above-average player, other Cubs players were the big contributors. His best year with the Cubs was 1911, a year in which the Cubs did not win the pennant when Sheckard led the league in runs scored, partly because he had 147 walks.

He finished out his career in 1913, split between St. Louis and Cincinnati.

Bill James has pointed out that Sheckard was a very talented player who at different times in his career did many impressive things. However, he could not consistently put those talents together for a whole career. Early in his career, he led the league in stolen bases (in 1899 and 1903), once he was in the top 5 in batting average (in 1901), once he led the league in triples (in 1901), once he led the league in home runs (in 1903), whereas in the middle of his career he twice led the league in sacrifice hits (1906 and 1909), and late in his career he led the league in walks twice (1911 and 1912), and in runs scored (in 1911).

As a result, by the Black Ink and Gray Ink Hall of Fame appraisal methods developed by Bill James, Sheckard scores rather well, while by the Hall of Fame Monitor method, he scores rather poorly.

He played in approximately 2,100 games and had around 2,100 hits. His lifetime .274 batting average was hurt by playing in the dead-ball era for most of his career. His substantial number of walks gave him an impressive on-base percentage of .375.

By the similarity scores method, the most similar player is his National League contemporary Tommy Leach.

He died after being hit by a car while walking to work in Lancaster. James Sheckard is buried in Columbia, Pennsylvania.

Notable Achievements
• Holds NL record for sacrifice hits in a season with 46.
• NL record for walks in a season in 1911 with 147 (a record which lasted over 30 years).
• NL On-Base Percentage Leader (1911)
• NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1901)
• NL Runs Scored Leader (1911)
• NL Triples Leader (1901)
• NL Home Runs Leader (1903)
• 2-time NL Bases on Balls Leader (1911 & 1912)
• 2-time NL Stolen Bases Leader (1899 & 1903)
• 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1901)
• 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 3 (1899, 1901 & 1911)
• 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 2 (1899 & 1903)
• Won two World Series with the Chicago Cubs in 1907 and 1908